Ray Allen has chimed on the never-ending GOAT debate between Michael Jordan and his former teammate LeBron James. Allen shared the court with both these guys and he has big memories from each one but when it comes to the greatest to ever do it, the sharpshooter has no doubts.
During a recent conversation with CBS Sports, the 2x NBA champion talked about a lot of topics, including his relationship with Kobe Bryant, the greatest shooter of all time, how LeBron James and Erik Spoelstra call him every once in a while to thank him for the clutch he made in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals and more. As usual, nowadays, former and current players have to talk about the GOAT debate and Ray wasn't the exception.
He expressed his opinion, explaining why LeBron James is a direct result of Michael Jordan and that makes His Airness the GOAT after all the things he did and what he meant for players like James and himself.
Question: Shifting back to LeBron for a second, he's mentioned "chasing" Michael Jordan in the past. As someone who's played with 'Bron and competed against M.J., do you feel like LeBron has "caught" him? And if not, what would it take for LeBron to surpass Michael as the GOAT?
RA: I never thought it was about a game of cat and mouse or tag. Michael Jordan, he propped up this league, and he allowed it to grow. He had such an impact on [the NBA] and other sports leagues, not only in this country but around the world, where he made it very popular for corporations to bring on athletes as endorsers to grow their product. It didn't happen before Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan made it acceptable across the spectrum. So the things that he's done, we are forever indebted to him, similar to Tiger Woods in golf.
Michael Jordan played a different game than LeBron does, he played in a different era. Statistics never equate when you compare across eras because the game is so totally different today than it was back in the '90s.
Question: Who would you say is the GOAT, then?
RA: In my opinion, M.J. is the GOAT. LeBron is a product of M.J., so a lot of what's in LeBron -- in his DNA -- comes from Michael. For anybody that says that LeBron is the GOAT, they're growing up in today's era, and they believe what they believe based on how it feels and what he means to them, and that's OK. But the way M.J. affected the game, man, he had a stranglehold on the league and he struck fear in everyone because he was an unstoppable player.
This is an interesting way to see that. What LeBron is doing right now is the direct reflection of what Jordan meant for him and means a lot for the King and everybody. MJ was different and he almost single-handedly took the NBA to new horizons with his game, his personality, and all the victories he collected during the 90s with the mighty Chicago Bulls.
All the kids like Allen, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James grew up watching Jordan and that was reflected on their game and what they aspired to do on the court. That's the Jordan effect and it will take some time before somebody comes in and dethrone His Airness.